Animal Ghosts or Animal Hauntings and the Hereafter by Elliott O'Donnell
V WILD ANIMALS AND THE UNKNOWN
But to proceed. The phenomenon of the big bear, provided again it was really objective, may have been the phantasm of some prehistoric creature whose bones lie interred beneath the Tower; for we know the Valley of the Thames was infested with giant reptiles and quadrupeds of all kinds (I incline to this theory); or it may have been a Vice-Elemental, or--the phantasm of a human being who lived a purely animal life, and whose spirit would naturally take the form most closely resembling it.
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Judging by the number of experiences related to me, hauntings by phantom hares and rabbits would appear to be far from uncommon. There is this difference, however, between the hauntings by the two species of animal--phantom hares usually portend death or some grave catastrophe, either to the witness himself, or to someone immediately associated with him; whereas phantom rabbits are seldom prophetic, and may generally be looked upon merely as the earth-bound spirits of some poor rabbits that have met with untimely ends.
_Hauntings by a White Rabbit_
Mr. W.T. Stead, in his _Real Ghost Stories_, gives an account of the hauntings by a phantom rabbit in a house in ---- Road. He does not, however, mention any locality. After describing several of the phenomena which disturbed various occupants of the place, he goes on to say, in the language of Mrs. A., who narrates the incident:--
"A dog which lay on the rug also heard the sounds, for he pricked up his ears and barked. Without a moment's delay she flew to the door, calling the dog to follow her, intending as she did so to open the hall door and call for assistance, but the dog, though an excellent house dog, crouched at her feet and whined, but would not follow her up the stairs, so she carried him up in her arms, and reaching the door, called for assistance; when, however, the dining-room doors were opened, the rooms were in perfect quiet and destitute of any signs of life."
The behaviour of the dog here accords exactly with the behaviour of dogs I have had in haunted houses, and substantiates my theory that dogs are excellent psychic barometers.
"After the family had been in the house a few weeks, a white rabbit made its appearance. This uncanny animal would suddenly appear in a room in which members of the family were seated, and after gliding round and slipping under chairs and tables, would disappear through a brick wall as easily as through an open door."
This is the invariable trick of ghosts; they seldom, however, open doors. Mrs. A. adds:--
"Some years have now elapsed since the incident I have now related took place, and again, in response to orders given by the enterprising landlord of the property, long-closed doors and windows have been thrown open, and painters and paperhangers have brought their skill to bear upon gruesome rooms and halls; the house is once more inhabited, this time by a widow lady and some grown-up sons. These tenants come from a distance, and are entirely strangers both to the neighbourhood and the former history of the house, but, to use her own words, the mistress 'cannot understand what ails the house,' her sons insist on sleeping together in one room, and the quiet of the house is constantly being broken by the erratic appearances of a large white rabbit, which the inmates are frequently engaged chasing, but are never able to find."
Mr. Stead offers no explanation. I can see no other conclusion, however, than that this ghost was the actual phantasm of some rabbit that had been done to death in the house, probably by the boy whose apparition was among the other manifestations seen there.
_John Wesley's Ghost_
In his article "More Glimpses of the Unseen" (_Occult Review_, October, 1906), Mr. Reginald B. Span writes:--
"During the extraordinary manifestations which occurred in the house of John Wesley at Epworth, the phantom forms of two animals appeared, one being a large white rabbit, and the other an animal like a badger, which used to appear in the bedrooms and run about and then disappear, whilst the various bangings and rappings were at their loudest."
This is the only case I have ever come across of the ghost of a badger. I think it must be unique. Mr. Span adds: "Many strange and inexplicable things occurred in that house which were not due to any natural cause or reason. I remember that loud rappings used to sound round my room at nights, even when I had a light burning. I was often awakened by rappings on the floor of my bedroom, which would then sound on the walls and furniture, and were heard by others occupying rooms some distance off." This, again, is most interesting, as ghosts seldom visit lighted rooms. Mr. Span continues:--
"It was in the afternoon in broad daylight when my brother saw this mysterious animal.
"He was in the drawing-room alone, and as he was standing at one side of the room looking at a picture on the walls, he heard a noise behind him, and found, on looking round, that a sofa which generally lay against one of the walls had been lifted by some unknown power into the middle of the room, at the same time he saw an animal like a rabbit run from under the sofa across the room and disappear into the wall. He searched everywhere for the animal, which could not have escaped from the room, as the doors and window were closed, but was unable to find any sign of one or any hole whereby one might have passed out."
_The Psychic Faculty in Hares and Rabbits_
Hares and rabbits are very susceptible to the superphysical, the presence of which they scent in the same manner as do horses and dogs.
I have known them to evince the greatest symptoms of terror when brought into a haunted house.